Last fall I acquired an internal survey on riders’ perceptions of safety and security on the Metro system. I also acquired a video montage of major crimes committed on the system; 1 in 2019, 1 in 2020 and 6 in 2021. Just prior to receiving these items, executives from Metro requested a meeting on ‘background only’, meaning names and specific quotes could not be used on the record.
I have since emailed Metro twice to participate in an on-the-record interview about the video and their security plan. I received no reply, not even an acknowledgement. They did, however, include this statement with the video back in January:
“Nothing is more important to Metro than the safety of our riders and employees. We have been committed to a comprehensive approach to safety and security that includes law enforcement, mental health experts, homeless outreach workers and state-of-the-art technology, and we continue to review our safety measures to identify improvements that best-protect our transit family from these types of tragic events.
We are obviously disappointed that this video was created by the Sheriff’s Department to use isolated incidents over a three-year period to make a point as part of an ongoing contractual disagreement. Although the incidents in the video occurred in the Sheriff Department’s jurisdiction, we don’t believe its release contributes to the public good nor does it reflect the daily reality for most Metro riders.
We are acutely aware of the reality that criminal activity outside of Metro can occasionally make its way onto our system, but even one assault is one too many. We will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to bring perpetrators of crime on our system to justice, while continuing to add resources and staff visibility to deter crime and fortify rider welfare”.
Both the LAPD and LA County Sheriff’s Department made it clear this type of criminal activity doesn’t happen every day. And though this video depicts the worst of the worst, it is their assessment the trains and buses are safe to ride on a regular basis. They caution people to be alert, vigilant and not fall victim to distractions.
They also added the video montage is important to illustrate just how brazen crime has gotten on the Metro over the years. One police officer said he remembered years ago when the biggest concerns they had on the Metro was loud music and the occasional smoker.
According to the LAPD’s Transit Division and the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Transit Bureau the Blue Line has the highest number of violent crimes, the Red Line has the most homeless and the Orange Line is used most frequently as a getaway for criminals who commit crimes in the San Fernando Valley.
The LAPD and LA County Sheriff’s Department’s transit units say among their biggest challenges is the inability to enforce certain laws and quality of life violations (loud music, urinating, defecating, and other hygiene issues). If an officer or deputy observe something other than a criminal offense, they must notify a Metro security officer to handle the situation. A law enforcement official told me Metro executives and board members operate in a silo and are out of touch with the realities of the transportation system. The official told me there is a great deal of confusion, lack of communication, and inefficient / ineffective policies. The official said,
“Steve, the same people who run the city and county of LA are running the MTA Board...enough said”.